Catholic Diocese of Columbus refuses to reinstate fired lesbian teacher

Carla Hale

Carla Hale

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Catholic Diocese of Columbus has again upheld its dismissal of Carla Hale, the 19-year Bishop Watterson High School teacher fired during Holy Week because she mentioned her partner in a newspaper obituary.

Carla Hale

In a 40-word, one-paragraph letter, Catholic Schools Superintendent Lucia McQuaide made no mention of the circumstances surrounding the decision of diocesan officials to fire Hale.

She concludes: “I have decided to uphold the termination of your teaching contract.”

Hale was fired March 28, about a month after her mother’s obituary appeared in The Columbus Dispatch and listed Hale’s partner, Julie, among mourning family members.

A Watterson parent complained to Bishop Frederick Campbell, and Hale was fired by Watterson Principal Marian Hutson. Hutson told Hale in April that she wouldn’t reconsider the church’s action, either.

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Hale has filed a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission. Although Ohio and federal law allow employers to fire LGBT workers, Columbus forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

She has two weeks to request binding arbitration through her union contract, and Hale already has filed a grievance over her firing. Her union, the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, has refused to back her, though.

In a statement released through her attorney, Hale said: “I’ve attended graduation ceremonies for nineteen years. It was very difficult for me to be excluded this year.”

Attorney Thomas Tootle said: “Seeking reinstatement from the Superintendent is one more step in a process that we must exhaust before we can bring this matter to a meaningful resolution before a neutral arbitrator.”

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